GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF NORTH CAROLINA
SESSION LAW 2011-199
HOUSE BILL 380
AN ACT to clarify the procedure for discovery of electronically stored information and to make conforming changes to the North carolina rules of civil procedure.
The General Assembly of North Carolina enacts:
SECTION 1. G.S. 1A‑1, Rule 16, reads as rewritten:
"Rule 16. Pre‑trial procedure; formulating issues.
(a) In any action, the
court may in his its discretion direct the attorneys
for the parties to appear before him the court for a conference
(1) The simplification and formulation of the issues;
(2) The necessity or desirability of amendments to the pleadings;
(3) The possibility of obtaining admissions of fact and of documents which will avoid unnecessary proof;
(4) The limitation of the number of expert witnesses;
(5) The advisability or necessity of a reference of the case, either in whole or in part;
(6) Matters of which the court is to be asked to take judicial notice;
(7) Such other matters as may aid in the disposition of the action.
If a conference is held, the judge
may shall make an order which recites the action taken at the
conference, the any amendments allowed to the pleadings, and the
any agreements made by the parties as to any of the matters
considered, and which limits may limit the issues for trial to
those not disposed of by admissions or agreements of counsel; and such order
when entered controls the subsequent course of the action, unless modified at
the trial to prevent manifest injustice. If any issue for trial as stated in
the order is not raised by the pleadings in accordance with the provisions of
Rule 8, upon motion of any party, the order shall require amendment of the
(b) In a medical
malpractice action as defined in G.S. 90‑21.11, at the close of the
discovery period scheduled pursuant to
Rule 26(f1), Rule 26(g), the
judge shall schedule a final conference. After the conference, the judge shall
refer any consent order calendaring the case for trial to the senior resident
superior court judge or the chief district court judge, who shall approve the
consent order unless he the judge finds that:
(1) The date specified in the order is unavailable,
(2) The terms of the order unreasonably delay the trial, or
(3) The ends of justice would not be served by approving the order.
If the senior resident superior
court judge or the chief district court judge does not approve the consent
he the judge shall calendar the case for trial.
In calendaring the case, the court shall take into consideration the nature and complexity of the case, the proximity and convenience of witnesses, the needs of counsel for both parties concerning their respective calendars, the benefits of an early disposition and such other matters as the court may deem proper."
SECTION 2. G.S. 1A‑1, Rule 26, reads as rewritten:
"Rule 26. General provisions governing discovery.
(a) Discovery methods. – Parties may obtain discovery by one or more of the following methods: depositions upon oral examination or written questions; written interrogatories; production of documents or things or permission to enter upon land or other property, for inspection and other purposes; physical and mental examinations; and requests for admission.
(b) Discovery scope and limits. – Unless otherwise limited by order of the court in accordance with these rules, the scope of discovery is as follows:
(1) In General. – Parties may obtain discovery regarding any matter, not privileged, which is relevant to the subject matter involved in the pending action, whether it relates to the claim or defense of the party seeking discovery or to the claim or defense of any other party, including the existence, description, nature, custody, condition and location of any books, documents, electronically stored information, or other tangible things and the identity and location of persons having knowledge of any discoverable matter. It is not ground for objection that the information sought will be inadmissible at the trial if the information sought appears reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence nor is it grounds for objection that the examining party has knowledge of the information as to which discovery is sought. For the purposes of these rules regarding discovery, the phrase 'electronically stored information' includes reasonably accessible metadata that will enable the discovering party to have the ability to access such information as the date sent, date received, author, and recipients. The phrase does not include other metadata unless the parties agree otherwise or the court orders otherwise upon motion of a party and a showing of good cause for the production of certain metadata.
(2) Limitations on Frequency and Extent. – The frequency or extent of use of the discovery methods set forth in section (a) shall be limited by the court if it determines that: (i) the discovery sought is unreasonably cumulative or duplicative, or is obtainable from some other source that is more convenient, less burdensome, or less expensive; (ii) the party seeking discovery has had ample opportunity by discovery in the action to obtain the information sought; or (iii) the discovery is unduly burdensome or expensive, taking into account the needs of the case, the amount in controversy, limitations on the parties' resources, and the importance of the issues at stake in the litigation. The court may act upon its own initiative after reasonable notice or pursuant to a motion under section (c).
(3) Specific Limitations on Electronically Stored Information. – In addition to any limitations imposed by subdivision (b)(2) of this rule, discovery of electronically stored information is subject to the limitations set forth in Rule 34(b). The court may specify conditions for the discovery, including allocation of discovery costs.
Agreements. – A party may obtain discovery of the existence and contents of any
insurance agreement under which any person carrying on an insurance business
may be liable to satisfy part or all of a judgment which may be entered in the
action or to indemnify or reimburse for payments made to satisfy the judgment.
Information concerning the insurance agreement is not by reason of disclosure
admissible in evidence at trial. For purposes of this subsection, an
application for insurance shall not be treated as part of an insurance
agreement. (3)(5) Trial
Preparation; Materials. – Subject to the provisions of subsection (b)(4) (b)(6)
of this rule, a party may obtain discovery of documents and tangible things
otherwise discoverable under subsection (b)(1) of this rule and prepared in
anticipation of litigation or for trial by or for another party or by or for
that other party's consultant, surety, indemnitor, insurer, or agent only upon
a showing that the party seeking discovery has substantial need of the
materials in the preparation of his the case and that he the
party is unable without undue hardship to obtain the substantial equivalent
of the materials by other means. In ordering discovery of such materials when
the required showing has been made, the court may not permit disclosure of the
mental impressions, conclusions, opinions, or legal theories of an attorney or
other representative of a party concerning the litigation in which the material
is sought or work product of the attorney or attorneys of record in the
A party may obtain without the required showing a statement concerning the action or its subject matter previously made by that party. Upon request, a person not a party may obtain without the required showing a statement concerning the action or its subject matter previously made by that person. If the request is refused, the person may move for a court order. The provisions of Rule 37(a)(4) apply to the award of expenses incurred in relation to the motion. For purposes of this paragraph, a statement previously made is (i) a written statement signed or otherwise adopted or approved by the person making it, or (ii) a stenographic, mechanical, electrical, or other recording, or a transcription thereof, which is a substantially verbatim recital of an oral statement by the person making it and contemporaneously recorded.
Preparation; Experts. – Discovery of facts known and opinions held by experts,
otherwise discoverable under the provisions of subsection (b)(1) of this rule
and acquired or developed in anticipation of litigation or for trial, may be
obtained only as follows:
a. 1. A party may through interrogatories require any other party to identify each person whom the other party expects to call as an expert witness at trial, to state the subject matter on which the expert is expected to testify, and to state the substance of the facts and opinions to which the expert is expected to testify and a summary of the grounds for each opinion.
2. Upon motion, the court
may order further discovery by other means, subject to such restrictions as to
scope and such provisions, pursuant to
(b)(4)c (b)(6)b. of this rule, concerning fees and expenses as
the court may deem appropriate.
b. Unless manifest
injustice would result, (i) the court shall require that the party seeking
discovery pay the expert a reasonable fee for time spent in responding to
discovery under subdivision
(b)(4)a2 (b)(6)a2 of this rule; and
(ii) with respect to discovery obtained under subdivision (b)(4)a2 (b)(6)a2
of this rule the court may require the party seeking discovery to pay the
other party a fair portion of the fees and expenses reasonably incurred by the
latter party in obtaining facts and opinions from the expert.
(7) Claiming privilege or protecting trial‑preparation materials.
a. Information withheld. – When a party withholds information otherwise discoverable by claiming that the information is privileged or subject to protection as trial‑preparation material, the party must (i) expressly make the claim and (ii) describe the nature of the documents, communications, or tangible things not produced or disclosed, and do so in a manner that, without revealing information itself privileged or protected, will enable other parties to assess the claim.
b. Information produced. – If information subject to a claim of privilege or protection as trial‑preparation material is inadvertently produced in response to a discovery request, the party that produced the material may assert the claim by notifying any party that received the information of the claim and basis for it. After being notified, a party (i) must promptly return, sequester, or destroy the specified information and any copies it has, (ii) must not use or disclose the information until the claim is resolved, (iii) must take reasonable steps to retrieve the information if the party disclosed it before being notified, and (iv) may promptly present the information to the court under seal for determination of the claim. The producing party must preserve the information until the claim is resolved.
(c) Protective orders. – Upon motion by a party or by the person from whom discovery is sought, and for good cause shown, the judge of the court in which the action is pending may make any order which justice requires to protect a party or person from unreasonable annoyance, embarrassment, oppression, or undue burden or expense, including one or more of the following: (i) that the discovery not be had; (ii) that the discovery may be had only on specified terms and conditions, including a designation of the time or place; (iii) that the discovery may be had only by a method of discovery other than that selected by the party seeking discovery; (iv) that certain matters not be inquired into, or that the scope of the discovery be limited to certain matters; (v) that discovery be conducted with no one present except persons designated by the court; (vi) that a deposition after being sealed be opened only by order of the court; (vii) that a trade secret or other confidential research, development, or commercial information not be disclosed or be disclosed only in a designated way; (viii) that the parties simultaneously file specified documents or information enclosed in sealed envelopes to be opened as directed by the court.
A party seeking a protective order on the basis that electronically stored information sought is from a source identified as not reasonably accessible because of undue burden or cost has the burden of showing that the basis exists. If the showing is made, the court may nonetheless order discovery from the source if the requesting party shows good cause, but only after considering the limitations of subsection (b)(2) of this rule.
If the motion for a protective order is denied in whole or in part, the court may, on such terms and conditions as are just, order that any party or person provide or permit discovery. The provisions of Rule 37(a)(4) apply to the award of expenses incurred in relation to the motion.
(d) Sequence and timing of discovery. – Unless the court upon motion, for the convenience of parties and witnesses and in the interests of justice, orders otherwise, methods of discovery may be used in any sequence and the fact that a party is conducting discovery, whether by deposition or otherwise, shall not operate to delay any other party's discovery. Any order or rule of court setting the time within which discovery must be completed shall be construed to fix the date after which the pendency of discovery will not be allowed to delay trial or any other proceeding before the court, but shall not be construed to prevent any party from utilizing any procedures afforded under Rules 26 through 36, so long as trial or any hearing before the court is not thereby delayed.
(e) Supplementation of
responses. – A party who has responded to a request for discovery with a
response that was complete when made is under no duty to supplement
party's response to include information thereafter acquired, except as
(1) A party is under a duty
seasonably to supplement
his the party's response with respect to
any question directly addressed to (i) the identity and location of persons
having knowledge of discoverable matters, and (ii) the identity of each person
expected to be called as an expert witness at trial, the subject matter on
which he the person is expected to testify, and the substance of his
(2) A party is under a duty
seasonably to amend a prior response if
he the party obtains
information upon the basis of which (i) he the party knows that
the response was incorrect when made, or (ii) he the party knows
that the response though correct when made is no longer true and the
circumstances are such that a failure to amend the response is in substance a
(3) A duty to supplement responses may be imposed by order of the court, agreement of the parties, or at any time prior to trial through new requests for supplementation of prior responses.
meeting, discovery conference, discovery plan. – At any time
after commencement of an action the court may direct the attorneys for the
parties to appear before it for a conference on the subject of discovery. The
court may do so upon motion by the attorney for any party if the motion
includes: (1) A statement
of the issues as they then appear; (2) A proposed
plan and schedule of discovery; (3) Any
limitations proposed to be placed on discovery; (4) Any other
proposed orders with respect to discovery; and (5) A statement
showing that the attorney making the motion has made a reasonable effort to
reach agreement with opposing attorneys on the matters set forth in the motion.
Each party and his attorney are under a duty to participate in good faith in
the framing of a discovery plan if a plan is proposed by the attorney for any party.
Notice of the motion shall be served on all parties. Objections or additions to
matters set forth in the motion shall be served not later than 10 days after
service of the motion. Following the discovery
conference, the court shall enter an order tentatively identifying the issues
for discovery purposes, establishing a plan and schedule for discovery, setting
limitations on discovery, if any; and determining such other matters, including
the allocation of expenses, as are necessary for the proper management of
discovery in the action. An order may be altered or amended whenever justice so
requires. Subject to the right of a party
who properly moves for a discovery conference to prompt convening of the
conference, the court may combine the discovery conference with a pretrial
conference authorized by Rule 16.
(1) No earlier than 40 days after the complaint is filed in an action, any party's attorney or an unrepresented party may request a meeting on the subject of discovery, including the discovery of electronically stored information. If such a request is filed, the parties shall meet in the county in which the action is pending not less than 21 days after the initial request for a meeting is filed and served upon the parties, unless agreed otherwise by the parties or their attorneys and unless an earlier time for the meeting is ordered by the court or agreed by the parties. Even if the parties or their attorneys do not seek to have a discovery meeting, at any time after commencement of an action the court may direct the parties or their attorneys to appear before it for a discovery conference.
(2) During a discovery meeting held pursuant to subdivision (f)(1) of this rule, the attorneys and any unrepresented parties shall (i) consider the nature and basis of the parties' claims and defenses and the possibilities for promptly settling or resolving the case and (ii) discuss the preparation of a discovery plan as set forth in subdivision (f)(3) of this rule. Attorneys for the parties, and any unrepresented parties, that have appeared in the case are jointly responsible for arranging the meeting, for being prepared to discuss a discovery plan, and for attempting in good faith to agree on a discovery plan. The meeting may be held by telephone, by videoconference, or in person, or a combination thereof, unless the court, on motion, orders the attorneys and the unrepresented parties to attend in person. If a discovery plan is agreed upon, the plan shall be submitted to the court within 14 days after the meeting, and the parties may request a conference with the court regarding the plan. If the parties do not agree upon a discovery plan, they shall submit to the court within 14 days after the meeting a joint report containing those parts of a discovery plan upon which they agree and the position of each of the parties on the parts upon which they disagree. Unless the parties agree otherwise, the attorney for the first plaintiff listed on the complaint shall be responsible for submitting the discovery plan or joint report.
(3) A discovery plan shall contain the following: (i) a statement of the issues as they then appear; (ii) a proposed plan and schedule of discovery, including the discovery of electronically stored information; (iii) with respect to electronically stored information, and if appropriate under the circumstances of the case, a reference to the preservation of such information, the media form, format, or procedures by which such information will be produced, the allocation of the costs of preservation, production, and, if necessary, restoration, of such information, the method for asserting or preserving claims of privilege or of protection of the information as trial‑preparation materials if different from that provided in subdivision (b)(7) of this rule, the method for asserting or preserving confidentiality and proprietary status, and any other matters addressed by the parties; (iv) any limitations proposed to be placed on discovery, including, if appropriate under the circumstances of the case, that discovery be conducted in phases or be limited to or focused on particular issues; (v) when discovery should be completed; and (vi) if appropriate under the circumstances of the case, any limitations or conditions pursuant to section (c) of this rule regarding protective orders.
(4) If the parties are unable to agree to a discovery plan at a meeting held pursuant to subdivision (f)(1) of this rule, they shall, upon motion of any party, appear before the court for a discovery conference at which the court shall order the entry of a discovery plan after consideration of the report required to be submitted under subdivision (f)(2) of this rule and the position of the parties. The order may address other matters, including the allocation of discovery costs, as are necessary for the proper management of discovery in the action. An order may be altered or amended as justice may require.
The court may combine the discovery conference with a pretrial conference authorized by Rule 16. A discovery conference in a medical malpractice action shall be governed by subsection (g) of this rule.
malpractice discovery conference. – In a medical malpractice action as defined
in G.S. 90‑21.11, upon the case coming at issue or the filing of a
responsive pleading or motion requiring a determination by the court, the judge
shall, within 30 days, direct the attorneys for the parties to appear for a
discovery conference. At the conference the court may consider the matters set
out in Rule 16 and subdivision (f)(3) of this rule and shall:
(1) Rule on all motions;
(2) Establish an appropriate schedule for designating expert witnesses, consistent with a discovery schedule pursuant to subdivision (3), to be complied with by all parties to the action such that there is a deadline for designating all expert witnesses within an appropriate time for all parties to implement discovery mechanisms with regard to the designated expert witnesses;
(3) Establish by order an appropriate discovery schedule designated so that, unless good cause is shown at the conference for a longer time, and subject to further orders of the court, discovery shall be completed within 150 days after the order is issued; nothing herein shall be construed to prevent any party from utilizing any procedures afforded under Rules 26 through 36, so long as trial or any hearing before the court is not thereby delayed; and
(4) Approve any consent
order which may be presented by counsel for the parties relating to
(2) and (3) of this subsection, unless the court finds that the terms of
the consent order are unreasonable.
If a party fails to identify an expert witness as ordered, the court shall, upon motion by the moving party, impose an appropriate sanction, which may include dismissal of the action, entry of default against the defendant, or exclusion of the testimony of the expert witness at trial.
(g)(h) Signing of
discovery requests, responses, and objections. – Every request for discovery or
response or objection thereto made by a party represented by an attorney shall
be signed by at least one attorney of record in his individual that
attorney's name, whose address shall be stated. A party who is not
represented by an attorney shall sign the request, response, or objection and
state his that party's address. The signature of the attorney or
party constitutes a certification that he the attorney or party has
read the request, response, or objection and that to the best of his the
knowledge, information, and belief of that attorney or party formed after
a reasonable inquiry it is: (1) consistent with the rules and warranted by
existing law or a good faith argument for the extension, modification, or
reversal of existing law; (2) not interposed for any improper purpose, such as
to harass or cause unnecessary delay or needless increase in the cost of
litigation; and (3) not unreasonable or unduly burdensome or expensive, given
the needs of the case, the discovery already had in the case, the amount in
controversy, and the importance of the issues at stake in the litigation. If a
request, response, or objection is not signed, it shall be stricken unless it
is signed promptly after the omission is called to the attention of the party
making the request, response, or objection and a party shall not be obligated
to take any action with respect to it until it is signed.
If a certification is made in violation of the rule, the court, upon motion or upon its own initiative, shall impose upon the person who made the certification, the party on whose behalf the request, response, or objection is made, or both, an appropriate sanction, which may include an order to pay the amount of the reasonable expenses incurred because of the violation, including a reasonable attorney's fee."
SECTION 3. G.S. 1A‑1, Rule 33(c), reads as rewritten:
"(c) Option to produce
business records. – Where the answer to an interrogatory may be derived or
ascertained from the business
records records, including
electronically stored information, of the party upon whom the interrogatory
has been served or from an examination, audit or inspection of such business
records, or from a compilation, abstract or summary based thereon, and the
burden of deriving or ascertaining the answer is substantially the same for the
party serving the interrogatory as for the party served, it is a sufficient
answer to such interrogatory to specify the records from which the answer may
be derived or ascertained and to afford to the party serving the interrogatory
reasonable opportunity to examine, audit or inspect such records and to make
copies, compilations, abstracts or summaries. A specification shall be in
sufficient detail to permit the interrogating party to locate and to identify,
as readily as can the party served, the records from which the answer may be ascertained."
SECTION 4. G.S. 1A‑1, Rule 34, reads as rewritten:
34. Production of
documents and things and documents, electronically
stored information, and things; entry upon land for inspection and other
(a) Scope. – Any party may
serve on any other party a request (i) to produce and permit the party making
the request, or someone acting on
his that party's behalf, to
inspect and copy, any designated documents (including writings, drawings,
graphs, charts, photographs, phono‑records, and other data compilations
from which information can be obtained, translated, if necessary, by the
respondent through detection devices into reasonably usable form), or to
inspect and copy, test, or sample any designated documents,
electronically stored information, or tangible things which constitute or
contain matters within the scope of Rule 26(b) and which are in the
possession, custody or control of the party upon whom the request is served; or
(ii) to permit entry upon designated land or other property in the possession
or control of the party upon whom the request is served for the purpose of
inspection and measuring, surveying, photographing, testing, or sampling the
property or any designated object or operation thereon, within the scope of
(b) Procedure. – The request may, without leave of court, be served upon the plaintiff after commencement of the action and upon any other party with or after service of the summons and complaint upon that party. The request shall set forth the items to be inspected either by individual item or by category, and describe each item and category with reasonable particularity. The request shall specify a reasonable time, place, and manner of making the inspection and performing the related acts. The request may specify the form or forms in which electronically stored information is to be produced.
The party upon whom the request is served shall serve a written response within 30 days after the service of the request, except that a defendant may serve a response within 45 days after service of the summons and complaint upon that defendant. The court may allow a shorter or longer time. The response shall state, with respect to each item or category, that inspection and related activities will be permitted as requested, unless the request is objected to, in which event the reasons for objection shall be stated. If objection is made to part of an item or category, the part shall be specified. In addition to other bases for objection, the response may state an objection to production of electronically stored information from sources that the party identifies as not reasonably accessible because of undue burden or cost. The response may also state an objection to a requested form for producing electronically stored information. If the responding party objects to a requested form, or if no form is specified in the request, the party must state the form or forms it intends to use. The party submitting the request may move for an order under Rule 37(a) with respect to any objection to or other failure to respond to the request or any part thereof, or any failure to permit inspection as requested.
Unless otherwise stipulated by the parties or ordered by the court, the following procedures apply to producing documents or electronically stored information:
(1) A party must produce documents as they are kept in the usual course of business or must organize and label them to correspond to the categories in the request;
(2) If a request does not specify a form for producing the electronically stored information, a party must produce it in a reasonably usable form or forms; and
(3) A party need not produce the same electronically stored information in more than one form.
(c) Form of response. – There shall be sufficient space following each request in which the respondent may state the response. The respondent shall: (1) state the response in the space provided, using additional pages if necessary; or (2) restate the request to be followed by the response. An objection to a request shall be made by stating the objection and the reason therefor either in the space following the request or following the restated request.
(c)(d) Persons not
parties. – This rule does not preclude an independent action against a person
not a party for production of documents and things and permission to enter upon
SECTION 5. G.S. 1A‑1, Rule 37, reads as rewritten:
"Rule 37. Failure to make discovery; sanctions.
(a) Motion for order compelling discovery. – A party, upon reasonable notice to other parties and all persons affected thereby, may apply for an order compelling discovery as follows:
(1) Appropriate Court. – An application for an order to a party or a deponent who is not a party may be made to a judge of the court in which the action is pending, or, on matters relating to a deposition where the deposition is being taken in this State, to a judge of the court in the county where the deposition is being taken, as defined by Rule 30(h).
(2) Motion. – If a deponent
fails to answer a question propounded or submitted under Rules 30 or 31, or a
corporation or other entity fails to make a designation under Rule 30(b)(6) or
31(a), or a party fails to answer an interrogatory submitted under Rule 33, or
if a party, in response to a request for inspection submitted under Rule 34,
fails to respond that inspection will be permitted as requested or fails to
permit inspection as requested, the discovering party may move for an order
compelling an answer, or a designation, or an order compelling inspection in
accordance with the request. The motion must include a certification that the
movant has in good faith conferred or attempted to confer with the person or
party failing to make the discovery in an effort to secure the information or
material without court action. When taking a deposition on oral examination,
the proponent of the question shall complete the examination on all other
he adjourns the examination is adjourned, in order
to apply for an order. If the motion is based upon an objection to
production of electronically stored information from sources the objecting
party identified as not reasonably accessible because of undue burden or cost,
the objecting party has the burden of showing that the basis for the objection
If the court denies the motion in whole or in part, it may make such protective order as it would have been empowered to make on a motion made pursuant to Rule 26(c).
(3) Evasive or Incomplete Answer. – For purposes of this subdivision an evasive or incomplete answer is to be treated as a failure to answer.
(4) Award of Expenses of Motion. – If the motion is granted, the court shall, after opportunity for hearing, require the party or deponent whose conduct necessitated the motion or the party advising such conduct or both of them to pay to the moving party the reasonable expenses incurred in obtaining the order, including attorney's fees, unless the court finds that the opposition to the motion was substantially justified or that other circumstances make an award of expenses unjust.
If the motion is denied, the court shall, after opportunity for hearing, require the moving party to pay to the party or deponent who opposed the motion the reasonable expenses incurred in opposing the motion, including attorney's fees, unless the court finds that the making of the motion was substantially justified or that other circumstances make an award of expenses unjust.
If the motion is granted in part and denied in part, the court may apportion the reasonable expenses incurred in relation to the motion among the parties and persons in a just manner.
(b) Failure to comply with order. –
(1) Sanctions by Court in County Where Deposition Is Taken. – If a deponent fails to be sworn or to answer a question after being directed to do so by a judge of the court in the county in which the deposition is being taken, the failure may be considered a contempt of that court.
(2) Sanctions by Court in Which Action Is Pending. – If a party or an officer, director, or managing agent of a party or a person designated under Rule 30(b)(6) or 31(a) to testify on behalf of a party fails to obey an order to provide or permit discovery, including an order made under section (a) of this rule or Rule 35, or if a party fails to obey an order entered under Rule 26(f) a judge of the court in which the action is pending may make such orders in regard to the failure as are just, and among others the following:
a. An order that the matters regarding which the order was made or any other designated facts shall be taken to be established for the purposes of the action in accordance with the claim of the party obtaining the order;
b. An order refusing to
allow the disobedient party to support or oppose designated claims or defenses,
him the party from introducing designated matters
c. An order striking out pleadings or parts thereof, or staying further proceedings until the order is obeyed, or dismissing the action or proceeding or any part thereof, or rendering a judgment by default against the disobedient party;
d. In lieu of any of the foregoing orders or in addition thereto, an order treating as a contempt of court the failure to obey any orders except an order to submit to a physical or mental examination;
e. Where a party has failed
to comply with an order under Rule 35(a) requiring
him the party to
produce another for examination, such orders as are listed in subdivisions a,
b, and c of this subsection, unless the party failing to comply shows that he
the party is unable to produce such person for examination.
In lieu of any of the foregoing orders or in addition thereto, the court shall require the party failing to obey the order to pay the reasonable expenses, including attorney's fees, caused by the failure, unless the court finds that the failure was substantially justified or that other circumstances make an award of expenses unjust.
(c) Failure to provide electronically stored information. – Absent exceptional circumstances, a court may not impose sanctions under these rules on a party for failing to provide electronically stored information lost as a result of routine, good‑faith operation of an electronic information system.
(c)(d) Expenses on
failure to admit. – If a party fails to admit the genuineness of any document
or the truth of any matter as requested under Rule 36, and if the party
requesting the admissions thereafter proves the genuineness of the document or
the truth of the matter, he the requesting party may apply to the
court for an order requiring the other party to pay to him or her the
reasonable expenses incurred in making that proof, including reasonable
attorney's fees. The court shall make the order unless it finds that (i) the
request was held objectionable pursuant to Rule 36(a), or (ii) the admission
sought was of no substantial importance, or (iii) the party failing to admit
had reasonable ground to believe that he or she might prevail on the
matter, or (iv) there was other good reason for the failure to admit. (d)(e) Failure of
party to attend at own deposition or serve answers to interrogatories or
respond to request for inspection. – If a party or an officer, director, or
managing agent of a party or a person designated under Rule 30(b)(6) or 31(a)
to testify on behalf of a party fails (i) to appear before the person who is to
take his the deposition, after being served with a proper notice,
or (ii) to serve answers or objections to interrogatories submitted under Rule
33, after proper service of the interrogatories, or (iii) to serve a written
response to a request for inspection submitted under Rule 34, after proper
service of the request, the court in which the action is pending on motion may
make such orders in regard to the failure as are just, and among others it may
take any action authorized under subdivisions a, b, and c of subsection (b)(2)
of this rule. In lieu of any order or in addition thereto, the court shall
require the party failing to act to pay the reasonable expenses, including
attorney's fees, caused by the failure, unless the court finds that the failure
was substantially justified or that other circumstances make an award of
The failure to act described in this section may not be excused on the ground that the discovery sought is objectionable unless the party failing to act has applied for a protective order as provided by Rule 26(c).
(e), (f) Reserved for
future codification purposes.
(g) Failure to participate
in the framing of a discovery plan. – If a party or
his the party's attorney
fails to participate in good faith in the framing of a discovery plan by
agreement as is required by Rule 26(f), the court may, after opportunity for
hearing, require such party or his the party's attorney to pay to
any other party the reasonable expenses, including attorney's fees, caused by the
SECTION 6. G.S. 1A‑1, Rule 45, reads as rewritten:
"Rule 45. Subpoena.
(a) Form; Issuance. –
(1) Every subpoena shall state all of the following:
a. The title of the action, the name of the court in which the action is pending, the number of the civil action, and the name of the party at whose instance the witness is summoned.
b. A command to each person to whom it is directed to attend and give testimony or to produce and permit inspection and copying of designated records, books, papers, documents, electronically stored information, or tangible things in the possession, custody, or control of that person therein specified.
c. The protections of persons subject to subpoenas under subsection (c) of this rule.
d. The requirements for responses to subpoenas under subsection (d) of this rule.
(2) A command to produce
records, books, papers, electronically stored information, or tangible
things may be joined with a command to appear at trial or hearing or at a
deposition, or any subpoena may be issued separately. A subpoena may specify
the form or forms in which electronically stored information is to be produced.
(3) A subpoena shall issue from the court in which the action is pending.
(4) The clerk of court in which the action is pending shall issue a subpoena, signed but otherwise blank, to a party requesting it, who shall complete it before service. Any judge of the superior court, judge of the district court, magistrate, or attorney, as officer of the court, may also issue and sign a subpoena.
(b) Service. –
(1) Manner. – Any subpoena may be served by the sheriff, by the sheriff's deputy, by a coroner, or by any person who is not a party and is not less than 18 years of age. Service of a subpoena upon a person named therein shall be made by delivering a copy thereof to that person or by registered or certified mail, return receipt requested. Service of a subpoena for the attendance of a witness only may also be made by telephone communication with the person named therein only by a sheriff, the sheriff's designee who is not less than 18 years of age and is not a party, or a coroner.
(2) Service of copy. – A
copy of the subpoena served under subdivision
(1) (b)(1) of this
subsection shall also be served upon each party in the manner prescribed by
Rule 5(b). This subdivision
(3) Subdivision (b)(2) of this subsection does not apply to subpoenas issued under G.S. 15A‑801 or G.S. 15A‑802.
(c) Protection of Persons Subject to Subpoena. –
(1) Avoid undue burden or expense. – A party or an attorney responsible for the issuance and service of a subpoena shall take reasonable steps to avoid imposing an undue burden or expense on a person subject to the subpoena. The court shall enforce this subdivision and impose upon the party or attorney in violation of this requirement an appropriate sanction that may include compensating the person unduly burdened for lost earnings and for reasonable attorney's fees.
(2) For production of public records or hospital medical records. – Where the subpoena commands any custodian of public records or any custodian of hospital medical records, as defined in G.S. 8‑44.1, to appear for the sole purpose of producing certain records in the custodian's custody, the custodian subpoenaed may, in lieu of personal appearance, tender to the court in which the action is pending by registered or certified mail or by personal delivery, on or before the time specified in the subpoena, certified copies of the records requested together with a copy of the subpoena and an affidavit by the custodian testifying that the copies are true and correct copies and that the records were made and kept in the regular course of business, or if no such records are in the custodian's custody, an affidavit to that effect. When the copies of records are personally delivered under this subdivision, a receipt shall be obtained from the person receiving the records. Any original or certified copy of records or an affidavit delivered according to the provisions of this subdivision, unless otherwise objectionable, shall be admissible in any action or proceeding without further certification or authentication. Copies of hospital medical records tendered under this subdivision shall not be open to inspection or copied by any person, except to the parties to the case or proceedings and their attorneys in depositions, until ordered published by the judge at the time of the hearing or trial. Nothing contained herein shall be construed to waive the physician‑patient privilege or to require any privileged communication under law to be disclosed.
(3) Written objection to
subpoenas. – Subject to subsection (d) of this rule, a person commanded to
appear at a deposition or to produce and permit the inspection and copying of
records, books, papers, documents, electronically stored information, or
tangible things may, within 10 days after service of the subpoena or before
the time specified for compliance if the time is less than 10 days after
service, serve upon the party or the attorney designated in the subpoena written
objection to the subpoena, setting forth the specific grounds for the
objection. The written objection shall comply with the requirements of Rule 11.
Each of the following grounds may be sufficient for objecting to a subpoena:
a. The subpoena fails to allow reasonable time for compliance.
b. The subpoena requires disclosure of privileged or other protected matter and no exception or waiver applies to the privilege or protection.
c. The subpoena subjects a
person to an undue
burden.burden or expense.
d. The subpoena is otherwise unreasonable or oppressive.
e. The subpoena is procedurally defective.
(4) Order of court required to override objection. – If objection is made under subdivision (3) of this subsection, the party serving the subpoena shall not be entitled to compel the subpoenaed person's appearance at a deposition or to inspect and copy materials to which an objection has been made except pursuant to an order of the court. If objection is made, the party serving the subpoena may, upon notice to the subpoenaed person, move at any time for an order to compel the subpoenaed person's appearance at the deposition or the production of the materials designated in the subpoena. The motion shall be filed in the court in the county in which the deposition or production of materials is to occur.
(5) Motion to quash or modify subpoena. – A person commanded to appear at a trial, hearing, deposition, or to produce and permit the inspection and copying of records, books, papers, documents, electronically stored information, or other tangible things, within 10 days after service of the subpoena or before the time specified for compliance if the time is less than 10 days after service, may file a motion to quash or modify the subpoena. The court shall quash or modify the subpoena if the subpoenaed person demonstrates the existence of any of the reasons set forth in subdivision (3) of this subsection. The motion shall be filed in the court in the county in which the trial, hearing, deposition, or production of materials is to occur.
(6) Order to compel; expenses to comply with subpoena. – When a court enters an order compelling a deposition or the production of records, books, papers, documents, electronically stored information, or other tangible things, the order shall protect any person who is not a party or an agent of a party from significant expense resulting from complying with the subpoena. The court may order that the person to whom the subpoena is addressed will be reasonably compensated for the cost of producing the records, books, papers, documents, electronically stored information, or tangible things specified in the subpoena.
(7) Trade secrets; confidential information. – When a subpoena requires disclosure of a trade secret or other confidential research, development, or commercial information, a court may, to protect a person subject to or affected by the subpoena, quash or modify the subpoena, or when the party on whose behalf the subpoena is issued shows a substantial need for the testimony or material that cannot otherwise be met without undue hardship, the court may order a person to make an appearance or produce the materials only on specified conditions stated in the order.
(8) Order to quash; expenses. – When a court enters an order quashing or modifying the subpoena, the court may order the party on whose behalf the subpoena is issued to pay all or part of the subpoenaed person's reasonable expenses including attorney's fees.
(d) Duties in Responding to Subpoenas. –
(1) Form of response. – A
person responding to a subpoena to produce
documents records, books,
documents, electronically stored information, or tangible things shall
produce them as they are kept in the usual course of business or shall organize
and label the documents them to correspond with the categories in
(2) Form of producing electronically stored information not specified. – If a subpoena does not specify a form for producing electronically stored information, the person responding must produce it in a form or forms in which it ordinarily is maintained or in a reasonably useable form or forms.
(3) Electronically stored information in only one form. – The person responding need not produce the same electronically stored information in more than one form.
(4) Inaccessible electronically stored information. – The person responding need not provide discovery of electronically stored information from sources that the person identifies as not reasonably accessible because of undue burden or cost. On motion to compel discovery or for a protective order, the person responding must show that the information is not reasonably accessible because of undue burden or cost. If that showing is made, the court may nonetheless order discovery from such sources if the requesting party shows good cause, after considering the limitations of Rule 26(b)(2). The court may specify conditions for discovery, including requiring the party that seeks discovery from a nonparty to bear the costs of locating, preserving, collecting, and producing the electronically stored information involved.
of objection. – When information subject to a subpoena is withheld on the
objection that it is subject to protection as trial preparation materials, or
that it is otherwise privileged, the objection shall be made with specificity
and shall be supported by a description of the nature of the communications,
records, books, papers, documents, electronically stored information, or
other tangible things not produced, sufficient for the requesting party to
contest the objection.
(d1) Opportunity for Inspection of Subpoenaed Material. – A party or attorney responsible for the issuance and service of a subpoena shall, within five business days after the receipt of material produced in compliance with the subpoena, serve all other parties with notice of receipt of the material produced in compliance with the subpoena and, upon request, shall provide all other parties a reasonable opportunity to copy and inspect such material at the expense of the inspecting party.
(e) Contempt; Expenses to Force Compliance With Subpoena. –
(1) Failure by any person without adequate excuse to obey a subpoena served upon the person may be deemed a contempt of court. Failure by any party without adequate cause to obey a subpoena served upon the party shall also subject the party to the sanctions provided in Rule 37(d).
(2) The court may award costs and attorney's fees to the party who issued a subpoena if the court determines that a person objected to the subpoena or filed a motion to quash or modify the subpoena, and the objection or motion was unreasonable or was made for improper purposes such as unnecessary delay."
SECTION 7. The Revisor of Statutes shall cause to be printed, as annotations to the published General Statutes, all explanatory comments of the drafters of this act, the North Carolina Bar Association Litigation Section E‑Discovery Committee, as the Revisor may deem appropriate.
SECTION 8. This act becomes effective October 1, 2011, and shall apply to actions filed on or after that date.
In the General Assembly read three times and ratified this the 14th day of June, 2011.
s/ Walter H. Dalton
President of the Senate
s/ Thom Tillis
Speaker of the House of Representatives
s/ Beverly E. Perdue
Approved 11:42 a.m. this 23rd day of June, 2011